Melendez Insurance Blog

Hiring a Contractor Checklist

451613627_hiring-a-contractor-e1400698560605 Concerns about questionable contractors are the number one reason consumers call the Better Business Bureau. This statistic doesn’t surprise Phae Howard, executive director of the National Center for the Prevention of Home Improvement Fraud. “It’s easy money since most people don’t understand the language of home improvement,” says Howard, who recently published Don’t Even Think About Ripping Me Off! Concerned about becoming a victim? Then keep these things in mind when it comes to hiring a contractor for your home improvement project. Finding a contractor Check in with your local homebuilders’ association. Get referrals from friends, family and coworkers. Compile a list of reputable contractors before you need one. The stress of an emergency might impair your judgment. How to vet a contractor See if the trade association(s) where he or she belongs stipulates a code of ethics, minimum hours of satisfactory work and trade exams. Check in with your state attorney general’s office and the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints against the contractor.… Read More

What Happens If My Neighbor’s Tree Falls in My Yard?

sb10068539n-001_fallen-tree-e1399386670406 Trees can be tricky, but for the most part homeowners are responsible for what falls into their own yard. So if your neighbor’s tree falls in your yard, your homeowners insurance would typically help cover the cost of removing the tree and remedying the damage it caused, after your deductible. The same is true in reverse: If a tree on your property falls in your neighbor’s yard, your neighbor should file a claim with his or her insurance company. In most cases, neighbors are able to work things out without too much trouble. If there’s ever an issue, you can rely on your claims adjuster to help straighten everything out. Preventing tree damage Preventive measures matter when it comes to trees. Start by looking for signs of distress such as dead limbs, cracks in the trunk or major limbs, leaning to one side and branches that are close to a house or power line.… Read More

Why Families Need Life Insurance

4-29-2014-4-29-01-PM As a young insurance agent, Mark Wandall didn’t needed to be convinced to buy life insurance. But even Mark would be amazed at all that the insurance has meant for his wife, Melissa, and for many other people he never met. Mark was just 30 when he was killed in an auto accident less than a mile from his Bradenton, Florida, home. He was the passenger in a car that was broadsided by a driver who ran a red light. He died less than a week after celebrating his first wedding anniversary and just 19 days before the birth of his daughter, Madison Grace. The life insurance has allowed Melissa to remain in the family home, take time off from her career so she can be a full-time mom and put money into a college fund for Madison Grace. The insurance has also given Melissa the opportunity to keep Mark’s spirit alive through two important causes.… Read More

Six Books for Small Business Owners

GiveAndTakeBook_slide1 From entrepreneurship to networking to outstanding customer service, the following books for small business owners and larger companies alike are highly rated by critics and readers. Erie Insurance Corporate Librarian Adam Groves curated this list–which is restricted to books published in 2013–based on the recommendations of his ERIE colleagues. Here’s what tops his list when it comes to putting the power of hardbacks, paperbacks and ebooks to work for you and your business. 1. Success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant reveals how effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation and leadership skills can affect your–and by definition, your business’–success. 2. The Unstoppables: Tapping Your Entrepreneurial Power by Bill Schley is a New York Times bestseller that analyzes the “emotional mechanics” that set entrepreneurs in motion. It gives you six rule sets to help you take your business to the next level.… Read More

Life Insurance at Every Age

sb10067962dw-001 Quick quiz: Who needs life insurance the most? A married 25-year-old who just bought a house A 38-year-old homeowner with three children A 59-year-old nearing retirement and caring for an aging parent The answer: All of the above. Surprised? You’re not alone in underestimating the role that life insurance plays in protecting loved ones and in ensuring a comfortable retirement. Or in overestimating its cost: A recent study reveals that consumers think life insurance is three times more expensive than it really is. “The truth is that life insurance has never been more affordable thanks to more refined underwriting and the fact that people are living longer, healthier lives,” says Greg Wieser, director of Life Marketing at ERIE. Whether you’re entering adulthood or nearing retirement, you may have a need for life insurance. Here’s how it can benefit you at any life stage. In your 20s: There are reasons to consider coverage at a young age.… Read More

Insurance for Home-Based Businesses

Homepreneure-e1376337238809 The rise of the personal computer and the large number of jobs lost during the recession drove many Americans to set up shop in their homes. Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration reports that home-based businesses now account for half of all businesses in the United States. Yet many new home-based business owners forget to buy one very important thing: insurance. A 2004 study commissioned by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America revealed that nearly 60 percent of home-based business owners didn’t have enough insurance to protect their businesses. “When people are working out of their house, they think ‘Well, I have homeowners coverage,” says Terry McConnell, vice president, Personal Lines Underwriting. “But the homeowners policy hardly ever covers the business.” What homeowners policies don’t cover Many—though not all—homepreneurs need extra protection beyond their homeowners policies. That’s because most homeowners policies lack these important coverages: Business personal property Most homeowners policies provide limited coverage of $500 to $1,000 for tools, machines or other equipment you use exclusively for your business.… Read More

What Taxes & Healthcare Laws Mean for Small Businesses

chess-boardThere’s a lot of talk about taxes and regulations and how changes to the system could impact small businesses. Recently, the chatter’s also included potential impacts from healthcare reform and the Affordable Care Act. But what do taxes and regulations really mean for you, your business or the small businesses you most often work with? We looked for a florist, a mechanic and an insurance agent —small business owners who consumers work with everyday—to ask how they handle the changing news. We ended up talking to an award-winning designer, finding the American dream and learning what it means to be an American entrepreneur. It made it hard to remember we intended to talk about taxes and regulations. In a nutshell, here’s how taxes work for a small business: Tax season is every season for a business. They pay estimated taxes every quarter, based on what they made at the same time the previous year.… Read More